Police have named the American students who died in a fatal crash near Turangi this morning.
Daniela Rosanna Lekhno, Roch Jauberty, and Austin Brashears were killed at about 7.30am, when the people-mover they were travelling in rolled on Lake Rotoaira Rd also known as SH46, throwing several occupants from the vehicle, said police.
The vehicle was travelling in convoy behind a second people mover both filled with students from Boston University on an exchange programme in Auckland, who were on their way to walk the Tongariro Crossing.
The only exception was the 21-year-old woman, in a critical condition in hospital, who is from Boston University but was not on the exchange programme.
Two other women, aged 20 and 21, remain in Rotorua Hospital in a stable condition.
A 21-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were treated in Taupo Hospital and later discharged.
The families of all of the students involved in a fatal road crash have been notified of the tragedy.
The group in the second vehicle were also Boston University students except for one man who is from another American university visiting a friend.
The students were traumatised by the crash and were being supported by police, victim support and exchange programme co-ordinators, said police.
"We fully appreciate the added pressure on families when their children are hurt or killed overseas. We have made it a priority today to contact the families as quickly as possible so that they don't hear the news through the grapevine, and to reassure other families who have children studying overseas,'' said Road Policing Manager Inspector Kevin Taylor.
Police would continue to ensure the families to receive the support they needed, he said.
The students were all studying a range of academic subjects, and as part of the exchange programme spend two semesters overseas.
Early indications from the scene examination show the vehicle drifted to the left into gravel, then over corrected and the momentum caused the vehicle to roll. It was not yet known why the vehicle drifted left, said Inspector Kevin Taylor.
It was unconfirmed if the occupants of the people-mover were wearing seatbelts, but the fact that some were thrown from the vehicle indicated at at least some of them were not, he said.